The Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) has presented three of its most significant achievements during the first 100 days of the seventh-mandate government.

It claimed that the accomplishments demonstrate its commitment to advancing human rights in Cambodia, in line with the government’s Pentagonal Strategy.

The major achievements encompass the following areas: bolstering peace, political stability and public order; enhancing the rule of law and the justice system; and pursuing an independent foreign policy.

A December 4 CHRC press release highlighted the positive results they have achieved.

“Regarding efforts to reinforce peace, political stability, security and public order, the CHRC has collaborated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR], through national consultations and workshops which focused on human rights. The enhancement of social protections is also included in its strategy,” it said.

The second major accomplishment revolves around the enhancement and strengthening of the law and the justice system. The CHRC has worked on five grievance redressal mechanisms, including the launch of a mobile app grievance mechanism.

In addition, the CHRC offers free legal consultations and access to lawyers for underprivileged individuals impacted by human rights abuses, as well as free legal consultations via telephone.

Its third noteworthy achievement is related to the CHRC’s commitment to maintaining an independent, rule-of-law based foreign policy. The CHRC has actively engaged in regional, international and UN collaborations.

 “The committee remains committed to fulfilling its responsibilities and will continue to take proactive measures by implementing an ongoing action plan which aims to attain even greater accomplishments in the realm of human rights,” added the release.

Pen Bona, chairman of the Government Spokesperson Unit, took to social media on December 4 to explain that all policies initiated by the government are designed with the objective of advancing human rights in Cambodia. This includes six priority political programmes which are specifically aimed at safeguarding the well-being of the underprivileged, and other vulnerable people. 

“From the introduction of the triangle and rectangular strategies of previous government mandates, it has all been about promoting human rights in Cambodia. Government leaders have consistently prioritised the welfare of the citizens through accepting requests to address issues on various social media platforms like Facebook and in public forums,” he said.

Soeng Senkaruna, spokesperson for local rights group ADHOC, said the CHRC’s focus appears to predominantly revolve around policy formulation and matters pertaining to foreign relations, which do not seem to meet the real needs of the people regarding human right concerns. For example, some issues such as human rights abuses, the exploitation of land and natural resources, and threats from the authorities, have yet to witness effective responses.

“We want the committee to prioritise efforts to safeguard fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, political rights, the rights of activists, and other rights which have been ratified that should be improved, to provide justice to victims,” he added.

He urged the CHRC to review the recommendations put forth by civil society organisations (CSOs) and the UN human rights report in order to improve the human rights situation in Cambodia.

He noted that the national and international organisations did not simply issue random reports, and in case of a lack of trust, recommended that the government conduct thorough inspections and research to find suitable solutions. 

CHRC president Keo Romy met with UN special rapporteur Vitit Muntarbhorn on December 5 to discuss the current situation in Cambodia.

According to a CHRC press release, the objective of the meeting was to engage in discussions concerning the progression of the human rights situation in Cambodia, as well as explore the establishment of national human rights institutions within the country.

During the meeting, Remy reiterated that the Kingdom remains committed to upholding peace, which is a fundamental necessity in ensuring human rights, particularly the right to life.

He explained that a recent draft report on the fourth periodic review stands as a testament to the results that Cambodia has achieved in implementing the 173 recommendations it adopted in 2019. An inter-ministerial meeting at the technical level has been concluded, and consultations with CSOs and stakeholders were set to begin on December 6.

“Subsequently, there will be an inter-ministerial working group meeting at the leadership level, before guidance is sought from the head of the government. It will then be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for further processing,” he said.

He added that the human rights situation within prisons has also improved. Inmates now receive diets in accordance with prison laws, have access to vocational training programmes during their period of incarceration, have time for exercise and receive proper medical care. Additionally, prisons are now equipped with libraries to encourage reading, as well as designated spaces for religious ceremonies.

In a statement, the UN’s Vitit conveyed his appreciation to Cambodia for its notable advancements in the realm of human rights. He particularly commended the drafting of the law on the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI).

He also thanked the CHRC for organising the meeting, which he described as characterised by a friendly atmosphere of understanding.